Ngā Ringa Raupā - O'Dell Toi

By Lynette Amoroa

Tonight's Matariki star has gained experience from the military and social services.

But at a later stage in life he decided to learn the art of whakairo (carving).

Today he has combined his knowledge to educate the younger generation about the art form, a place where they learn the importance of whānau and respect, and in return a sense of accomplishment.

Toi says, “I am from Northland, my name is O'Dell Toi.  My journey in whakairo began in 1999. Whakairo was what I did every day for 16 years. I didn't carve for myself, I would carve for my whānau and for the younger kids.

In 2006, I started work with CYF as a casual youth worker. In 2010, I started working at Whakatakapokai CYFs residence.

Last year, we went to Clendon Park Primary School to create a gateway. That was the first time we helped and guided the carvers and seven students.

I competed a Bachelors with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa last year, focusing on youth, regardless of where they are from or who they are.

I hope whakairo continues to live on for whānau and iwi around the world.”